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State GOP rips pro-jobs group’s endorsements of Democratic professionals over Republican small businessmen

September 26, 2012

The state Republican Party is unhappy that a group with a self-described mission of supporting “pro-jobs” legislative candidates is backing at least two Democratic professionals over Republican small businessmen.

The New Leaders Project emerged in 2010 with the goal of promoting a more “pro-growth” General Assembly. Yet RI GOP chairman Mark Zaccaria finds fault with two of the group’s current endorsements:

— The NLP is backing Democrat physician Mark Schwager over Republican businessman Anthony Giarrusso in the race to fill the seat being vacated by former House Minority Leader Robert Watson, in the GOP bastion of East Greenwich.

While Schwager is a respected professional, Zaccaria says, “I’m at a little bit of a loss to to explain why they chose one after another,” particularly since Giarrusso is “a small businessman himself and you can not be more pro-jobs” than someone who operates a jewelry company in Johnston. 

— The NLP is endorsing Democrat Joe Shekarchi, a lawyer (and manager of Gina Raimondo’s 2010 campaign for treasurer), over Republican businessman John Falkowski in the race to fill the state rep seat being vacated in Warwick by Robert Flaherty.

Zaccaria notes Shekarchi’s credentials as a lawyer, but calls Falkowksi the better pro-jobs candidate since he has “a 30-year history of growing businesses” and owns two pest-control companies.

The choices of Democratic professionals over GOP small businessman indicates, says Zaccaria, “obviously something else is going on.”

Jack Sommer, president of the New Leaders Project, couldn’t be reached for immediate comment.

The vice president of the group is Michael McMahon, a Democrat who served as director of the state Economic Development Corporation for the early part of former Governor Don Carcieri’s time in office.

Here’s the full list of the New Leaders Project’s legislative endorsements for November. 

— Mia Ackerman (D) Cumberland, House District 45

— Larry Ehrhardt (R) North Kingstown, House District 32

— Katherine Kazarian (D) East Providence, House District 63

— Brian Newberry (R) North Smithfield, House District 48

— Mark Schwager (D) East Greenwich, House District 30

— Mary Ann Shallcross Smith (I) House District 46

— Joe Shekarchi (D) Warwick, House District 23

— Dawson Hodson (R) North Kingstown, Senate District 35

— Michael Marcello (D) Scituate, House District 41

— Chris Ottiano (R) Portsmouth, Senate District 11.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Christopher Nocera permalink
    September 26, 2012 8:16 pm

    Joe Shekarchi ran Gina’s 2010 run for Governor? Don’t remember that race. Could have sworn she ran for General Treasurer. Or was that just a Fraudian slip?

  2. September 26, 2012 8:18 pm

    It was a Freudian slip and has since been corrected.

  3. Craig O'Connor permalink
    September 27, 2012 11:19 am

    Carcieri was a business person. How did that work out? 38 studios and massive unemployment.

  4. Chuck Newton permalink
    September 27, 2012 1:01 pm

    What kind of group makes an endorsement without even contacting or interviewing one of the candidates in a race, as happened with Anthony Giarrusso? “New Leaders” seem to be pretenders to the throne of objectivity rather than providing convincing leadership in its choices.

  5. Will permalink
    September 27, 2012 4:28 pm

    I really have to wonder what criteria was used to make these selections, if in fact their was any objective criteria used at all. Although there is not an official Republican in the House Dist. 63 race (Rumford, East Providence), as David Sullivan is running as an Independent this time around, I was surprised to see Katherine Kazarian’s name listed. I really don’t know why she would have received an endorsement by a “pro-growth” organization. David at least has worked hard all his life, works in real estate, owns property, and pays taxes. He supports lower taxes and cutting regulations, etc. It would seem from a policy perspective, this would be a no-brainer… assuming David was ever considered.

    From her website:

    “Katherine graduated from Columbia University, where she majored in Urban Studies and Economics. While in college, Katherine was a member of Columbia University’s Peace by P.E.A.C.E. volunteer organization. As a member, she traveled to homeless shelters and public schools in Harlem to teach conflict resolution skills and conduct community workshops. She worked at Rhode Island Public Broadcasting, a private attorney’s office and has long paid her bills working as a waitress.”

    This is the most I could find out about her. I’ve met her once. She is quite pretty… she’s also pretty inexperienced. She’s young (I think 22 or 23), literally just graduated college, and to my knowledge, has never so much as held a paying job in either the public or private sectors. She’s done some volunteer work.

    There is nothing on her website that even remotely hints at what she would do to promote growth, jobs, or anything related. I’d love a clarification on this one, too.

    PS Since there is not a “Republican” in this race, it would not have been included in Mark’s press release (which I support completely). I just found this one odd.


    • Mister Guy permalink
      September 28, 2012 1:22 am

      Kazarian has no business being in the RI Legislature. Someone in the Party obviously picked her to be their own lackey, which is a shame.


  1. Progress Report: Hatch Act in Woonsocket, New Leaders Project Defines ‘Pro Jobs’ Agenda; State Sues Orphan

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